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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Catholocism as the true faith ; leaving the Catholic church as a sin

by Catherine Frakas 16 May 2001

Catholocism as the true faith ; leaving the Catholic church as a sin QUESTION from Elissa on December 2, 2002 I have been a Catholic for my entire life, as has my entire family. However, I have never come across evidence that the Catholic faith is the one true faith. I understand that Christianity is the way to go, and that people in any Christian denomination may go to heaven. In the Bible, Jesus says something along the lines of he's building His church on Peter, the rock. People take this to mean that the religion Peter started up is the true religion, but I do not see how that leads Catholics to the conclusion that Catholocism is the true faith.
Where I get confused is when Catholics say they have the true faith and that if you leave the Catholic Church, you are committing a sin and cannot go to heaven if you die before returning to the church.
I have friends who are Christian but not Catholic, and I do not understand how my beliefs can be more correct than theirs. They have stronger faith than anyone I have come across, and their faith has strengthened mine to a point I never thought I would reach so quickly. Saying they do not follow the one true faith strikes a note in me that feels wrong. How can someone of their faith be wrong?
I'm very confused when it comes to Catholic faith as the true religion, and I'm not even sure what question I want to ask. I just don't like that Catholics seem to be saying their faith is true and others isn't as correct as theirs is. It feels wrong to say that.
Thanks for your time and Godbless.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on December 21, 2002 Dear Elissa:
The true and FULL faith is found in any fellowship of believers that is in union and communion with the Chair of Peter.
The Bible clearly states that the Church is built upon Peter. This is the way God did it in the Old Testament too. Jesus even mentions the Old Testament authority as the Chair of Moses in Matthew 23:2.
Since Jesus brought a new covenant a new chair of authority was needed. That is the Chair of Peter.
In addition, if you study the Church Fathers you will find that their beliefs are Catholic beliefs. The word Catholic was first used to describe the Church in 107 AD by a student of the Apostle Paul which was St. Ignatius of Antioch.
You might want to check out the papers at
At that site you will find articles dealing specifically with these sorts of subjects.
The reason is it sin for a person who is Catholic to leave the Catholic Church is because in leaving the Church they are denying the FULL Faith of God. Jesus said there is ONE Church and that Church is in union with the Chair of Peter. To leave the Chair of Peter is to deny the truth, deny the Chair of Peter, which is to deny Jesus' Church.
Whether such a person goes to hell or not is a judgment for God.
As for those who are not Catholic and never were Catholic the Church teaches that they may find salvation through the mercy of God because they are in what is called invincible ignorance.
But as How can someone of their faith be wrong? They can be wrong because they are wrong. Just because they have a measure of the faith does not mean they have the fullness of the faith.
Protestants have a measure of the faith. They got that Faith from the Catholic Church. On aspects where they disagree with the Catholic Church they are wrong because God says they are wrong. What the Catholic Church teaches is what the Apostles and Jesus taught. To teach something else is wrong.
Here is the Catholic Catechism on Catholic teaching about other Christians who are not Catholic:

Outside the Church there is no salvation 846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?[335] Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.[336]
847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.[337]
848 Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.[338]

I hope this helps a little.
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